Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tree Frog in the garden

I worked all night last night, met an old college professor for breakfast, went on a shopping expedition for comic books, whiskey, and gardening supplies, came home, and mowed the lawn.

My mom came out to prune the Rhododendrons while I was mowing the side yard. Shortly after she started she began to signal to me frantically to come and see something. There was something in the Rhododendron she had never seen before - and neither had I, except in pictures. It was a tree frog.

I plucked the frog from its leaf and ran in the house to get my camera. What was a tree frog doing here in Pennsylvania? I had always assumed these were a tropical sort of species. But it turns out there are several tree frogs among the seventeen species of frogs native to Pennsylvania.

This particular tree frog most closely resembles the description given for Cope's Gray Tree Frog*:

Description 1 1/4-2 3/8" (3.2-6 cm). Skin rough; greenish or brownish to gray, with several large dark blotches on back. Dark-edged light spot beneath eye. Under surfaces of thighs bright yellow-orange. Large toe pads.

Certain aspects of the description do not match up exactly:

Habitat Trees and shrubs growing in or near permanent water.
Hmmm. No permanent water I know of, unless the recent rains have produced some mosquito hatcheries around the property.

Nocturnal; they live high in trees and descend only at night, usually just to chorus and to breed.
Well, in that case, I guess we interrupted the poor thing's sleep.

Cope's Gray Tree Frog*, almost but not quite in its natural habitat.

This picture shows the bumpy skin and the bright yellow-orange underside of the thighs, but note the absence of "several large dark blotches on back." Perhaps this is a juvenile?

Finally, a close-up view of a Cope's Gray Tree Frog's butt*. Note the red belly.

The frog soon jumped out of my hands and back into the Rhododendrons, where it can get along with its tree-froggish business. And I went back to mowing the lawn.

*Or a plain old Gray Tree Frog, which is identical in appearance. They differ only in their calls, and the fact that the Gray Tree Frog has twice as many chromosomes as the Cope's Gray Tree Frog. You would think that would make them heavier or something.


joy said...

Thanks for the beautiful photos of this little guy, Harold. He looks really teeny compared to your hand. I'm surprized that a frog would have such bumpy, dry-looking skin...looks more toad-like.

MaryRuth said...

That is a beautiful frog...great pics! How fun to find something unexpected.

D.B. Echo said...

Joy, he felt pretty moist, though he may have simply peed in my hand as I held him. (AAAAGH! WARTS!)

The bumpy skin may serve more as camouflage than as the physiological adaptation of toads.

Check out this picture:

There are AT LEAST four Cope's Gray Tree Frogs in that picture! It took me well over five minutes to find ONE!

Mary Ruth, I have honestly never seen a frog this colorful! I really thought he was an escaped tropical pet!

dizzy blond said...

Were any animals hurt or killed during the shooting of this photos?

D.B. Echo said...

Aside from one human getting peed on by a tree frog...